May 2021 Population Matters Update

Director’s message

Ploughing lonely furrows, casting pearls…

One of the organisations I worked for before joining Population Matters was the Soil Association. As with seeking to communicate the benefits of achieving a smaller,  sustainable human population, promoting the benefits of organic food and farming was a lonely and much contested furrow to plough at times!

The exponents of mainstream, ‘conventional’ agriculture (in reality, completely antithetical to the conventions and principles of good husbandry) did all they could to denigrate organic farming, dismissing it as ‘muck and magic’, claiming there was no evidence of any benefits.

A memorable occasion I recall when those vested interests were shamed into silence was a farming conference our President, Jonathon Porritt, was speaking at. The preceding speaker, clearly feeling on a winning ticket amongst the largely agribiz audience, made the usual denigratory remarks unaware that Jonathon had armed himself with a compendium of all the peer-reviewed research confirming the benefits and distinctive features of organic food and farming. With a flourish, Jonathon cast the pages setting out the hundreds of referenced papers into the front row of the audience like a great concertina.

So, to mark the International Day of Biodiversity on 22 April, we metaphorically rolled out our ream of evidence to the most influential of our fellow environmental campaign groups here in the UK. Bolstered with the signatures of some of our most high-profile and authoritative supporters, our letter to the likes of WWF and Greenpeace directed them to the abundant evidence in our new briefings on climate change and biodiversity.

The irony here is that many young people clearly see what the big environment groups so far choose not to. Our landmark new poll shows three-in-ten 18-24-year-olds in the UK want to have fewer or no children because of their impact on the environment. Time is long overdue for the biggest names in the environmental movement to catch up with those enlightened young citizens.

– Robin Maynard, Director, Population Matters


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